Welcome Back: Sixx A.M.

If they’re not careful Sixx A.M. could go down as a band that died before its time, starved of oxygen thanks to the day jobs of its members.

Frontman and seasoned producer James Michael, Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba and Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx formed the band in 2007, but have managed to align schedules for just a handful of shows so far. But with the end in sight for Mötley, this could be about to change. As they prepare to release their third album, Modern Vintage, we spoke to Sixx and Michael about why Sixx A.M.’s time in the spotlight may finally have come.

Gotta Get It Right is the first single from Modern Vintage, and it’s taken a lot of people by surprise with its seventies pop rock sound.

Nikki Sixx: We agreed we should make an album that doesn’t fit with what’s going on, let’s be willing to make a record that could completely fail. We wanted to make a record like the great ones of the seventies. We went back and dug deep into the stuff we loved and the music that influenced us, whether it be Queen, Bowie, T. Rex, Gary Glitter, The Sweet and even Parliament Funkadelic and the Bee Gees. We went deep into some disco and glam anthems. We wrote these songs and in the beginning it was like, ‘We really have set ourselves up to fail.’ Then we started putting our take on these vintage influenced songs, we put them through Sixx A.M.’s modern filter.

James Michael: Look at bands like Queen and ELO, when you dig into their records you’re not just inundated with guitars and harsh vocals, there’s all sorts of dynamics and musical journeys, yet we still think of them as rock bands. We wanted to show that rock is not just one thing, it’s many things.

Is it exciting to challenge fan perceptions like that, particularly those expecting a Mötley knock-off?

JM: We’ll take our fans to new places but we’ll never abandon them there. We believe the Sixx A.M. fan is very open-minded and that affords us a wonderful freedom.

With Mötley currently on their final-ever tour, will Sixx A.M. soon become the top priority for you all?

NS: A hundred per cent. We started out as a band that made music as a soundtrack for a book; we didn’t plan on being a band, we were just making music. Then radio wanted to play Life Is Beautiful [from Sixx A.M’s 2007 debut album] and we were forced into coming up with a band name. That song became a No.1 hit and we got offered to go out on Crüe Fest. We didn’t get chance to tour the last record, but now that is a hundred per cent our priority.

JM: The exciting thing from a fan standpoint is Mötley is getting ready to wind down, and there is an entire fan base of people that have followed Nikki through his career. It’s not like those people will stop listening to music when Mötley hangs it up. There are a lot of fans out there and we have been blessed to have been exposed to them.

Nikki, have you had any second thoughts about drawing the curtain on Mötley’s career?

NS: No, it’s the right decision for sure. There’s so many bands out there hobbling around with one or two original members. That’s not how we want Mötley to be remembered.

Modern Vintage is out now via Eleven Seven Music.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich Chamberlain has written for Classic Rock, Musicradar.com, Total Guitar, Nuts, FourFourTwo, Billboard, Classic Rock Presents The Blues and Classic Rock Presents Country.